Said the Elephant to the Bishop...

"What's this piece called?"
"A Bishop. What is it in Spanish, Sophie?"
"And in French, Agathe?"

Therein lies a story...

The old Arab form of chess had a piece called the elephant, which, unlike most elephants I know, could jump two squares at a time, diagonally. And 'al-fil' means the Elephant in Arabic (Pil in Persian).

But if you have a lump of stone, or wood, and you want to show that it is an elephant, you might carve two curving lines on it for tusks, or make two points on it to show the same.

And if you then showed it to someone from England, you might hear them say, what's that, a Bishop's hat?

And if you showed it to someone from France, you might hear them say, what's that, a hat for a jester, the court fool?

Here Bruno Fauditti has swapped a jester's hat for a metal funnel:

Now in modern Western chess, this piece doesn't hop a little way, it can run right across the board. So the Germans adopted a different name for this piece, Läufer, the runner. There used to be played a version of chess in some parts of Germany which had both the old short-hopping Bishop, and the new long-running Currier, and that variant is called Courier Chess.

There is a famous painting of some people playing this game:

The Chinese form of chess still keeps the original piece with its original move; in fact, the name of the game, Xiang-Chi, means the Elephant Game.

Chess Quotes

Playing a game of chess
"Chess is 99% tactics"

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